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It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

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It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Eating too much, eating too little—both can have serious repercussions on your health

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are a range of illnesses that impact the way that you eat—from eating too little or eating way too much—that have serious repercussions to your physical and emotional health, the National Institutes of Health says. The most common eating disorders include bulimia, anorexia and binge eating.

What Causes Them?

Eating disorders are much more complex than having low-self esteem or poor body image. Doctors believe they are a result of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological and social factors that interact with one other. However, more research needs to be done.

How Common Are They?

It’s estimated that 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder, says the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Fifty percent of people with eating disorders are considered depressed and eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness. However only 1 in 10 with eating disorders receive treatment.

Black Girls and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders ain’t just a white thing. A 2009 study found thatnot only were African-American girls 50 percent more likely than white girls to be bulimic, but that socioeconomic status was not a factor in developing these disorders. Girls from the lowest income bracket were 153 percent more likely to be bulimic than their richer counterparts.

Can Men Have Eating Disorders?

Yes, they can. Contrary to popular belief, no one is exempt from eating disorders. A recent study found that 17.9 percent of boys and male teens were extremely concerned with their weight and body image. Also, these boys were more at risk for engaging in binge drinking and drug use.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is a deadly disorder where no matter how thin someone is, it’s just not enough. A person with anorexia refuses to maintain a healthy body weight, has an intense fear of gaining weight and has a distorted body image that does not reflect reality. Complications include reproductive and thyroid abnormalities; anemia; heart problems; bone density loss; neurological problems and, in some cases, death.

Binge Eating

Binge eating, the most common eating disorder among adults, is the act of consuming a large amount of food in a short period of time. This affects 3.5 percent of women, 2 percent of men and 1.6 percent of teens and kids, says the National Institutes of Health. Complications include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gallbladder disease and high blood pressure.

Bulimia

Bulimia, an illness that singer and actress Brandy once had, is when a person binges on food or has regular episodes of overeating. Then they use different methods—such as vomiting or abusing laxatives—to prevent weight gain from eating so much. Complications include constipation, dehydration, cavities, hemorrhoids, pancreatitis and tears in the esophagus.

For more information on eating disorders, go to BET.com.

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Kellee Terrell